Travellers Joy, Old Man’s Beard and Wild Clematis
The Clematis is a perennial climber, climbing over bushes, and often simply trailing in the grass. The stems are hairy when young, but become fluted and wiry when old. The specific epithet arises from the markedly spreading habit of the branches, which are produced almost at right angles to the stem. The leaves are compound and opposite.
The plant climbs by means of its petioles, which on coming in contact with some support, soon make one or two coils around it. The inflorencences are shorter than the leaves, and the perianth segments are velvety. The sweetly-scented flowers are borne in great profusion and present a common sight in autumn, along the roadsides, hence the common name 'Travellers Joy'.
The colour of the flowers range from cream-coloured to white; they are without any petals, but have four crown-shaped sepals with a powderbrush of stamens. The Travellers Joy flowers in March to April.
It grows abundantly in all the provinces of South Africa and in Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana.
The seeds are greenish brown in colour and each bears a persistent feathery style, by means of which it is wind-dispersed.
The masses of fruit of the Travellers Joy are feathery in appearance.
The travellers Joy Plant is used for a variety of ills and discomforts. It was used by travellers long ago to ease blisters and other travel sores, hence the name Travellers Joy. A tea is made with the leaves, and this tea can be used to treat a range of ills from itchy feet to red sore eyes.